Preston has been promised its best Guild ever, with thousands of people expected to line the streets for today’s trades procession.
More than 5,000 participants and almost 100 floats and vehicles will take part in the parade, the first of four massive civic processions during the course of Guild Week.
Thousands more are expected to descend on Avenham and Miller Parks today for the Vintage Guild Weekend, a two-day arts, music, food and fashion extravaganza.
More than 860,000 visitors are anticipated in Preston over the course of the main 10-day Guild celebrations, bringing an £18m boost to the city’s economy.
Preston’s Guild Mayor, Coun Carl Crompton, said: “The wait is finally over. What a unique and momentous occasion this really is.
“I really hope everyone is excited as I am to see the events that will unfold over the next week.”
Councillors, leaders from the arts world and other invited guests had a sneak preview of the Vintage site with a tour of Avenham Park’s tented village yesterday.
The Big Top marquee will host a series of Vintage-themed events, including a 1942-style ball and a gig by The Human League, before making way for a 90ft by 60ft stage for the Proms in the Park and G-Fest concerts next week.
Preston Council leader Peter Rankin told guests: “It’s a real privilege to be standing here after years of hard work, creative thinking and planning to deliver what will be the best Guild Preston has ever seen.
“There’s a real buzz and excitement in Preston that is just wonderful to be part of.
“I’m convinced we are going to have an amazing festival ahead of us.”
Guild festival director Stella Hall said she hoped the 2012 Guild would leave a lasting legacy for the city and its people.
She said: “I hope over the next 10 days we will deliver a festival Preston wants and needs and that visitors can come and enjoy.
“We hope lots of the seeds we will sow will continue. After 2012, we don’t want to put it all to bed.”